Hometown Hawkeye: Daniel Wesemann
With an estimated 56 million Americans suffering from mental health or substance abuse disorders, Nurse Practitioners (NPs) possess the skills needed to fill the gaps in the U.S. mental health care system, providing comprehensive care for this growing patient population. Not only do these practitioners provide thorough mental health care to many rural and underserved communities, they are also involved in research that evaluates the methods and criteria used to diagnose someone with a severe mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, particularly in pediatric patients.
One such researcher is Assistant Clinical Professor Daniel Wesemann, DNP, PMHNP-BC, ARNP, director of the College of Nursing’s Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) program. More specifically, Dr. Wesemann studies how psychiatric-mental health providers are making the diagnosis of pediatric bipolar disorder.
“Since this is a controversial disorder, I am interested in understanding what clinical information is needed for providers to make the diagnosis and whether clinical diagnosis correlates with valid and reliable screening tools,” he said. “I am also working on having a phenomenological understanding of this population to more accurately identify these individuals and to match interventions to their most problematic symptoms.”
Ultimately, Dr. Wesemann hopes that his research will help nurse practitioners more efficiently and definitively diagnose pediatric patients with severe mental illness.
“I envision a day when school nurses will be able to use the information from my research to identify these youth in need and provide care within their own communities. This could allow these young people to stay with their families, avoiding higher levels of care that often removes them from their families for weeks or months at a time.”
Even though the PMHNP track he directs is a graduate level program, Dr. Wesemann also works with undergraduate students by way of the Young Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Clinician program. Through this program he educates the students on the complexity of making a pediatric bipolar disorder diagnosis and emphasizes how nursing as a profession can help identify and care for these individuals. The students are also involved in data collection, data entry, data transcription, and manuscript revisions.
“Our students are given an opportunity to develop and enrich their understanding of working with people who have a serious mental illness,” said Dr. Wesemann. “Occasionally, I encounter a nursing student who isn’t’ initially ardent with psychiatric-mental health nursing…but through our programs they quickly develop a passion for working with this disenfranchised population.”
To read about more Hometown Hawkeyes from the College of Nursing and other UI departments, click here
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